We Are the New Farmers
A self-contained urban farming system with a “food computer” that monitors climate, energy use, and growth
Jonas Günther, Will Nodvik, Omar Gowayad, Selim Senocak, Sridhar Parthasarathy, and Sarvesh Sivaprakasam
When a group of Tandon students decides to address a problem, chances are good that they’ll come up with an innovative yet practical solution. Consider a multidisciplinary team that decided to dive into the world of sustainable urban farming. We Are the New Farmers, as they dubbed their enterprise, initially conceived of a fully enclosed tabletop environment that could house 20 plants, which thrived thanks to a “food computer” that monitored climate, energy use, and growth. That early idea won them a modest Stage I Prototyping Fund Award, offered jointly by the Greenhouse at the Tandon School of Engineering and the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute.
They went on to earn a Stage II award that allowed them to develop a commercial refrigerator-sized prototype that could nurture four times as many plants, which they set up in the Tandon MakerSpace. They are now incorporating such refinements as an aquaponics system that houses fish whose waste can be used as fertilizer, and an algae reactor, which allows otherwise wasted light to be harnessed to grow a highly nutritious secondary crop. (A variety of leafy greens are the primary products.)